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Everything Else Is Fluff

I’ve always heard that “if you enjoy your work, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Well, I enjoy what I do, in fact, I love my job. Helping people with their computer problems and solving what seem to be big crises in people’s lives helps fulfill my “hero complex.” Never heard of a hero complex? Well, probably not, since I made it up years ago to describe the feeling I get from helping someone recover an important file they think is gone forever, or getting a computer back up and working for a business just in the nick of time before they start losing a lot of money, or even helping an older person be able to send email messages to their grandkids. The Hero Complex is a probably a big part of why people do a lot of the things they do for work. The easy examples are doctors, policemen and firemen, but car mechanics, store managers, air conditioner technicians, janitors and even waiters and waitresses have told me that they have similar opportunities to be heroes in their jobs. 

I could tell you about  an older man who had cancer of the throat and lost the power of speech. He was brought to our shop by his daughter because she wanted him to get a computer to “give him something to do.” He purchased a laptop and with a little training, discovered how to email and chat online and found a new way to communicate with the world. Several months after his purchase we learned that his new habit was to rise early in the morning, take his laptop with him out to the front porch along with a cup of coffee and spend the better part of the morning typing messages back and forth with people he would never meet face to face befriending and begin befriended without needing to speak aloud. His daughter said he was happier than he had been in months because of his new portal to the world.

I could tell you about the man and his wife with a paralyzed son who was given an electric wheelchair that didn’t work because they didn’t have the right power cable and the power supply that charged up the wheelchair wasn’t working. The man couldn’t afford to order the new parts, but he was sort of a handyman when it came to fixing stuff and just wanted to know if we had any used parts that he could try to use to fix the wheelchair. I went through my collection of used parts (from computers no one wanted any more and were given to us) and sure enough we found several mismatched parts that he thought he could re-work into a charging system for the electric wheelchair.

I could tell you about the older gentleman who wrote books on his computer but knew very little about how to do much else with a computer. The last few years of his life he spent writing at home and getting technical assistance on a regular basis from my wife, Pam. I told him several times that I really didn’t believe he was having that many problems and that he just liked getting hugs from Pam. His smiles and his friendship were payment enough.

As a part of my job I spend a huge amount of time on the Internet and because I love what I do, I spend a lot of time on the Internet when I’m not working too. I get hundreds of forwarded emails every month from all of my friends and customers. Many of these forwarded emails I’ve seen before but there are some that are really good that I keep. One of the things that the Internet has done well is to help spread the good stories that we rarely get to see in the news. These are the stories of real people achieving things beyond the norm and the Internet has helped spread those stories and the optimism inherent in them wide and far.

Today, I got a newsletter that included a link to a video I’d never seen before and it shattered my illusion of being a hero. The kids in this video are my heroes now and I dare you to watch this and not get a tear in your eye or at least a lump in your throat. I’m not going to describe the video and ruin it for you, but I will say this: The Internet was created to share stories like this one. This video is a keeper and you should forward it to everyone you know. Everything else is fluff.

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